Koraput/Bhubaneswar: A BSF officer and a jawan were killed in Odisha today when Naxals triggered an IED blast while they were on a bike patrol in the jungles of Koraput district.
The Naxal strike came on a day when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik termed Left Wing Extremism(LWE) as a major cause of concern for Odisha, adding recent activities of Maoists in Bolangir, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Boudh districts was worrisome and needed to be handled effectively.
The incident occurred at around 1:00 pm when a team of about 20 Border Security Force(BSF) personnel were returning
from a search operation in Dandabari village on 10 motorcycles and the first carrying the team commander and his jawan got trapped in the blast carried out by using a hidden bomb on the dirt track of Kaliajhula forests.
The jawan driving the bike, constable SP Panda, was killed on the spot while pillion rider and commander of the squad Deputy Commandant Sunil Kumar Behra succumbed to his injuries later at Koraput district headquarter hospital.
"The two men sustained fatal injuries from shrapnels and heavy explosives used in the IED cleverly hidden and planted under the road by Naxals. A big crater was created at the spot where the bike was blown off," officials said.
They said the bike was tossed high in the air due to the impact of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast and the rest nine motorcycle-borne teams immediately took positions suspecting a gunfire from hiding Maoists.
"However, the Naxals did not rain heavy gunfire on the patrol party and they escaped into the jungles after firing
few shots," officials said, adding the BSF team was returning to its base in Ramagiri from Dandabari village after verifying reports of killing of a civilian by suspected Maoist cadres.
A group of armed ultras shot dead a businessman, identified as Bapi Samant, at Dandabadi vilage in the district
late last night, Koraput police said, adding the place of the landmine blast is barely four km from Dandabadi.
Officials said in order to escape getting trapped into IED and hidden explosive booby-traps in jungle tracks of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas, the troops very rarely use four-wheelers and rely on motorcycles for movement.
The BSF has constituted a Court of Inquiry into the incident even as additional forces were deployed for sanitisation of the blast area and adjoining villages.
"Left Wing Extremism continues to be a major concern for the state. Though we have been able to contain the menace
to areas bordering our neighbouring states, recent movement and activities of the Maoist cadre in districts of Bolangir, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Boudh is worrisome," Patnaik said.
"We should handle this new development effectively. We have already created adequate resources in terms of manpower, equipment and other logistics supplemented by the deployment of CRPF," he said addressing the annual conference of senior police officers here.